By now anyone following the Midlothian Panthers baseball club knows just how magical the past month has played out.
And they aren't done yet.
Following a two-game sweep of Wylie East in the 5A Region II semifinals, the Panthers are now two wins away from a trip to Dell Diamond in Round Rock for their first state tournament appearance in 37 years.
The sweep occurred Wednesday and Thursday at Horner Ballpark on the campus of Dallas Baptist University, a field where Midlothian head baseball coach Ray Hydes is quite familiar winning ballgames.
Hydes was once the starting catcher for the DBU Patriots during their run to the NAIA national championship in 1985 with a 56-24 record. He also happened to share a dorm room with Red Oak head baseball coach Jay Johnson that season.
But enough with the history lesson. Thursday was about the Panthers and their improbable run toward Round Rock.
"We talked about it early in the year, and we knew that we had to replace a big group of 13 seniors, but we had a good core group coming back," said Hydes following the Panthers 10-2 win in game two against Wylie East. "You start off playing early in the year in tournaments, and we were battling, but we just didn't know. We didn't know if we had guys in the right spot or where we were going to be. But these kids are just phenomenal. That's all I can say. They are phenomenal."
The Panthers outhit Wylie East 26-12 over the two games and outscored the Raiders 18-4.
Midlothian did not commit an error in either game, while also scoring at least run in all but two innings where a Panther dug into the batter's box.
It was as sound a drubbing as any winning team could dream of in round four of the 5A baseball playoffs.
"Josh Tankersley was lights out," Hydes said. "Ryan McCaskill made them seriously pay. Caden Hawkins pitched a gem. Jack Quinn pitched well and we had some young kids, I mean we had five sophomores out there playing in the regional semifinals.
"Anthony Ferrante swung the bat well. We just had so many kids contribute and once you start naming you are scared that you are going to leave someone out. This was a team effort."
In game one Wednesday, Hawkins, who could and should have some sort of nickname along the line of Caden "Big Game" Hawkins, at this point, spun another gem.
The senior struck out nine, walked one and scattered six hits during his complete-game win. He allowed both earned runs in the fourth inning of the 8-2 Midlothian victory.
Hawkins needed just 82 pitches to complete the outing, which came six days after he diced up the Cleburne Yellow Jackets to the tune of 13 strikeouts and no walks over nine-full innings in the regional quarterfinals.
At the plate, Garrett Bourgeois, Anthony Ferrante, Hunter Harrington, Ryan McCaskill and Josh Oliver all slugged doubles, while Humphreys added a three-bagger.
Ferrante drove home two runs. Bourgeois, Harrington, Humphreys, McCaskill and Oliver plated runs, as well.
The Panthers scored runs in every inning except the fifth and, because they were the home team, the seventh innings. They hung crooked numbers in the second (3) and third (2).
Midlothian kept the bats hot and wasted no time in game two of the 5A Region II semifinals, plating four runs in the top of the first inning.
The Panthers added one run in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh inning, while also scoring two in the sixth.
Quinn tossed the first 5.2 innings of the ballgame and earned the win. He struck out four, walked one and allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits.
Nick Pollard closed out the victory and series with 1.1 innings of no-hit baseball. He struck out one and did not issue a free pass.
McCaskill slugged three doubles for the Panthers in the win, while Ferrante (2B) and Tankersley (3B) also recorded extra-base hits.
Ferrante, McCaskill and Oliver all drove in two runs, each. Lance Rains and Tankersley added the other two RBIs.
"I'm going to enjoy the heck out of this and then we are going to get focused once we find out who we are playing," Hydes said. "Man, we are one series away from going to Austin, and it's been 37 years since Midlothian has done that and, dangit, we deserve to go."
The Panthers, who improved to 26-13 on the season, will now face District 14-5A foe Corsicana in the 5A Region II finals.
The best-of-three series will be played Wednesday-Saturday at Horner Park on the campus of Dallas Baptist University.
Game one is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Game two is at 5 p.m. Friday and game three, if necessary, is at 1 p.m Saturday.
The Panthers and Tigers split their regular-season series, with Midlothian winning game one at home 3-1 and Corsicana taking game two, 9-2.
Fred Phipps/Daily Light contributed to this report.